I started shooting Nikon 30 years ago using the FM in journalism school, so when I saw the retro Nikon Df come out, I was interested. There is just something familiar and comfortable about having some external dials on my camera. I have been shooting a DF now for about a month, and it just might be my favorite camera. Why?
First here are some specs. The DF has a 16.2 FX format CMOS sensor, 5.5 FPS shooting rate, Multi-CAM 4800 AF with 39 points, and ISO up to 204,800. Speaking of ISO, according to the recent DxO review, the Df has the best ISO performance of all the current Nikons. That alone makes me want one, as I seem to be shooting in dark interiors frequently. The Df has a beautiful 3.2″ LCD monitor, and a sturdy magnesium body. The camera uses SD cards (one slot) and a EN-EL14a battery, which has good longevity. With the vintage still camera concept in mind, Nikon chose not to include video in the Df.
Why do I like it? The Df is light, in fact it is the lightest (1.56 lb) full frame (FX) camera Nikon makes. The body is small and inconspicuous, and the shutter is very quiet. I can walk into a store and shoot a few frames and hardly anyone notices. When I am traveling in sketchy areas where my camera might be a thieve’s target, out comes the Df. The retro style doesn’t attract much attention. This also makes it a great camera to use when photographing shy subjects. It took me a matter of minutes before adjusting the controls felt intuitive and simple to operate. And the files are terrific, similar to what I would expect using my D4. After shooting the Df on two assignments and multiple workshops, this camera has a secure place in my camera bag. And when I travel, this camera will be my main body. Used in conjunction with the 18-35mm f3.5-4.5, the 50mm 1.8 and the 70-200mm F4, this entire set up weighs just over 4 pounds, pretty amazing for a full frame digital SLR camera and three lenses.
Obviously if you are interested in video, this is not the camera for you. But that aside, this is a terrific digital still camera that packs a punch. It may be dressed down, but don’t let that fool you as to what is under the hood. I recently shot close to 4000 images on an assignment, and the autofocus performed flawlessly, and the files look great. And did I mention how much I love twisting the dials…